OCTOBER SKYNOTES, 2020

OCTOBER STAR CHART, 2020
Please click on the Chart to enlarge, if necessary.

The chart shows the whole sky, at the times given at the top left of the chart.
The edge of the chart is the HORIZON, and the ZENITH is at the centre.
This chart is for LATITUDE 54 degrees NORTH, and is produced using 'CYBERSKY' Software and 'PLANETARIUM GOLD' software.

OCTOBER SKYNOTES 2020

 

OCTOBER 2020.

 

 

 

During all of the month except the last day, the Sun is passing through the constellation of Virgo. This constellation is the second largest in the entire sky – the largest being Hydra (the swamp snake). On October 31st around 00h, it passes the constellation border into Libra.

The Moon

 

The Moon is at apogee, its furthest from the Earth, on the 3rd at 17h, and on the 30th at 19h. (diameter 29minutes of arc), and at perigee its nearest to the Earth at 00h on the 17th. (diameter 33 minutes of arc.)
The first Full Moon is at 21h06 on the 1st and is called the Fruit Harvest Moon, being the first Full Moon nearest the Autumn Equinox where the three constellatons Cetus/Pisces/ Aquarius intersect. There is a second full moon on the 31st at 14h50, and is called the Hunter’s Moon – very appropriate this year as 'Herne the Hunter' and the 'Wild Hunt', from British Mythology, is said to ride the skies at Hallowe’en.
Alternative ideas have been put forward for the name given to this Full Moon; one idea is that as the Moon is now higher in the sky when full, it gives more light for poachers to stalk their prey. Another is that when the Moon is high in the south at midnight, the constellation of Orion the Hunter is completely clear of the SE horizon for the first time since last winter. This Moon is on the eastern edge of the Pisces border with Cetus. (Cetus is a large meandering constellation.)
Last Quarter Moon is on the 10th at 00h40 in the constellation of Gemini.
New Moon is on 16th at 19h32 in the constellation of Virgo, passing 4° north of the Sun.
The First Quarter Moon occurs on the 23rd at 13h24 in the constellation of Capricornus.
Earthshine may be seen illuminating the night hemisphere of the waxing crescent Moon from the 17th to the 22nd, and on the waning crescent Moon from the 11th to the 16th.
You may observe the morning cone of the Zodiacal Light from the 15th to the 30th. Look for its ethereal glow in the eastern morning sky during October, but to see it, you must be away from light polluted skies. In light intensity, it is slightly fainter than the Milky Way.

 

The Planets

 

Mercury cannot be seen during most of October, even though its greatest elongation east of the Sun is 26° is on the 1st. This is because the planet, despite its elongation, sets very shortly after sunset. Mercury comes into inferior conjunction on the 25th, and thereafter moves into the morning sky. For the last couple of days of the month, when given a clear sky towards the ESE and using binoculars, it may be glimpsed in the increasing twilight parallel with Spica, which lies 4° to the right of Mercury. Brilliant Venus is just over 20° to the upper right of the pair.

 

Venus shines as a brilliant morning object of magnitude -4.0 during the month. On the first of October it rises at 02h00, but at the end of the month, it rises just before 04h00. It is therefore visible in the morning sky for over three hours before sunrise. On the morning of the 14th Venus and the waning crescent Moon with earthshine illumination its night hemisphere, just to the north of east before 03h00, the two are separated by just over 3° in the constellation of Leo the Lion. They should form a beautiful celestial spectacle from this time onwards until swamped by sunrise. Through a telescope during October, Venus exhibits a gibbous phase.

Mars is at its nearest to the earth on the 6th, when it shines at a magnitude of -2.6 and subtends an angular diameter of almost 23 seconds of arc. Its distance from the earth’s centre at this time is 62,072,800 kilometres. It comes into opposition (opposite the Sun in the sky) on the 13th, when at astronomical midnight, it culminates at an altitude of 43° on the south meridian in the constellation of Pisces some 7° to the WNW of Alrisha (alpha Piscium), magnitude +4.1 (a rather nice binary star). Mars is visible all night at this time, and on the 3rd at 03h00 there is a close conjunction with the ‘just past’ Full Moon, when Mars lies just over 1° (three moon-widths) above the Moon, as seen from Scarborough. From the South Atlantic, the southwestern part of the African continent and the southern parts of Argentina including the Falkland Islands, an occultation of Mars takes place, when the planet disappears behind the northern limb of the Moon.

 

Jupiter continues to approach Saturn in the constellation of Sagittarius. At the beginning of October they are 7° apart. Jupiter is the brighter pf the two shining at magnitude -2.2 throughout the month; Saturn on the other hand is much fainter at magnitude +0.5. The two planets may be seen low in the southern sky in the early evening. Far beyond these two lies Pluto, which lies midway between them, but can only be seen through a powerful telescope or with careful imaging. The broad crescent Moon, almost at first quarter passes south of the planets on the 22nd, at which time the Moon is at its furthest declination almost 25° south.
Jupiter’s four Galilean moons can still be seen in their changing positions around the planet on a nightly basis. Refer to John’s Sky Notes which shows their position in the evening of each day. Saturn continues to present the northern surface of the rings towards earth and is a beautiful sight in a small telescope.

 

Uranus in the constellation of Aries comes into opposition (opposite the Sun in the sky), on the 31st, and is theoretically visible all night. The sixth magnitude planet lies 10° below the constellation’s brightest star, the +second magnitude star Hamal (alpha Arietis), a yellow giant star 85 light years away.
You can see a star chart showing the planet’s path amongst the fainter stars of Aries on the Remote Planets page, accessible from the Menu above. At opposition on the 31st, the planet’s magnitude is +5.7, and it is 2,810,587 km from Earth, which is approximately 19 times the Earth-Sun distance.
Neptune lies in the constellation of Aquarius, and is visible for most of the night, but a telescope or binoculars is necessary to see this distant world, which shines feebly at magnitude +7.8. The planet lies between the 4th magnitude star phi Aquarii and the +5.5 magnitude star 96 Aquarii.
As with Uranus, please visit the REMOTE PLANETS page where Neptune’s path amongst the faint stars of Aquarius, may be seen. The planet appears as a featureless tiny bluish white point of light.

 

Some more remnants of Halley’s Comet may be seen in the early hours from the 22nd to 23rd, when the earth encounters the Orionid stream. Up to 25 shooting stars an hour are expected, and conditions for observation this year are very favourable since the Moon is at first quarter and sets at around 21h and the Orionid radiant is rising in the ENE. These meteors tend to be fast moving and often leave persistent trains. The biggest number of Orionids will be visible just before dawn, when the constellation of Orion is high in the south. The radiant, or point of origin of the shooting stars is some 10° above Betelgeuse, the star which marks the right shoulder of the Giant Hunter.

Earlier in the month, at between 23h and 00h on the 8th/9th an increase in the number of shooting stars overnight marks the peak of the Draconid or Giacobinid (whose parent body is the comet Giacobini-Zinner) meteor shower, with its radiant in the constellation of Draco the Dragon. Conditions are difficult, as the waning gibbous Moon approaching last quarter is in the sky, rising slightly before 22h, adding some natural light pollution in the eastern sky.

 

Constellations visible in the south around midnight, mid-month, are as follows: Cetus, Pisces, Aries, Triangulum and Andromeda. Cassiopeia and the Milky Way lie at the zenith, with the Milky Way spanning the sky from east to west.

 

Clocks go back on October 25th at 2am (BST)
All times are GMT(UT)

1° is one finger width at arm’s length.

 

 

 

 

 

The phenomena of the month : OCTOBER 2020


Times are given in UT for SCARBOROUGH (0° 25' 0" W, 54° 16' 3" N, zone UT).

Date Hour Description of the phenomenon
yyyy mm dd hh:mm

 

2020 10 01 00:45 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 10 01 00:55 End of occultation of 30 Psc (magn. = 4.37)
2020 10 01 02:25 Beginning of occultation of 33 Psc (magn. = 4.61)
2020 10 01 02:31 End of occultation of 33 Psc (magn. = 4.61)
2020 10 01 03:11 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 01 12:00 GREATEST EASTERN ELONGATION of Mercury (25.7°)
2020 10 01 21:05 FULL MOON
2020 10 02 23:07 Close encounter between Venus and Regulus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 0.1°)
2020 10 03 05:30 Close encounter between the Moon and Mars (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 1.1°)
2020 10 03 17:22 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 406322 km)
2020 10 03 23:39 Beginning of occultation of 65-xi1 Cet (magn. = 4.36)
2020 10 03 23:59 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 04 00:42 End of occultation of 65-xi1 Cet (magn. = 4.36)
2020 10 04 11:46 Close encounter between the Moon and Uranus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.6°)
2020 10 04 23:53 Maximum of the variable star Mira (omicron Ceti)
2020 10 06 08:11 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 10 06 09:32 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 10 06 20:48 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 06 22:07 Close encounter between the Moon and Aldebaran (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.6°)
2020 10 07 20:28 Beginning of occultation of 109 Tau (magn. = 4.96)
2020 10 07 21:20 End of occultation of 109 Tau (magn. = 4.96)
2020 10 08 07:16 Meteor shower : Draconids (10 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 4.0 days)
2020 10 09 15:07 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 10 09 17:37 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 09 22:16 Meteor shower : S. Taurids (5 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 71.0 days)
2020 10 10 00:40 LAST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2020 10 10 22:23 Meteor shower : Delta Aurigids (2 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 8.0 days)
2020 10 11 18:20 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 10 12 14:25 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 13 03:11 Close encounter between the Moon and Regulus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.7°)
2020 10 13 07:28 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2020 10 13 12:26 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 10 13 23:26 OPPOSITION of Mars with the Sun
2020 10 14 00:58 Close encounter between the Moon and Venus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.4°)
2020 10 14 08:59 Opposition of the asteroid 747 Winchester with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.031 AU; magn. = 10.3)
2020 10 15 11:14 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 16 19:31 NEW MOON
2020 10 16 23:46 Moon at perigee (geocentric dist. = 356912 km)
2020 10 17 03:07 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 10 17 22:02 Close encounter between the Moon and Mercury (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 5.5°)
2020 10 18 00:00 Meteor shower : Epsilon Geminids (3 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 13.0 days)
2020 10 18 08:03 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 19 18:42 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 10 20 16:42 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 10 20 18:14 Beginning of occultation of 44 Oph (magn. = 4.16)
2020 10 21 00:29 Meteor shower : Orionids (20 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 36.0 days)
2020 10 21 04:52 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 21 18:20 Beginning of occultation of 22-lambda Sgr, Kaus Borealis, (magn. = 2.82)
2020 10 21 19:20 End of occultation of 22-lambda Sgr, Kaus Borealis, (magn. = 2.82)
2020 10 22 11:55 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 10 22 18:00 Close encounter between the Moon and Jupiter (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.9°)
2020 10 22 23:59 Close encounter between the Moon and Pluto (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 2.2°)
2020 10 23 04:39 Close encounter between the Moon and Saturn (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.0°)
2020 10 23 13:23 FIRST QUARTER OF THE MOON
2020 10 23 20:09 Opposition of the asteroid 11 Parthenope with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.344 AU; magn. = 9.4)
2020 10 24 00:54 Meteor shower : Leo Minorids (2 meteors/hour at zenith; duration = 8.0 days)
2020 10 24 01:40 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 25 18:24 INFERIOR CONJUNCTION of Mercury with the Sun (geoc. dist. centre to centre = 0.9°)
2020 10 26 06:04 Minimum of the variable star beta Lyrae
2020 10 26 07:41 Opposition of the asteroid 471 Papagena with the Sun (dist. to the Sun = 2.235 AU; magn. = 9.5)
2020 10 26 22:29 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 27 09:16 Close encounter between the Moon and Neptune (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 4.6°)
2020 10 27 20:42 Maximum of the variable star delta Cephei
2020 10 27 20:57 Maximum of the variable star eta Aquilae
2020 10 29 19:12 Close encounter between the Moon and Mars (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.5°)
2020 10 29 19:18 Minimum of the variable star Algol (beta Persei)
2020 10 29 22:16 Maximum of the variable star zeta Gemini
2020 10 30 18:46 Moon at apogee (geocentric dist. = 406394 km)
2020 10 30 23:00 Venus at its perihelion (distance to the Sun = 0.71841 AU)
2020 10 31 14:49 FULL MOON
2020 10 31 14:57 Close encounter between the Moon and Uranus (topocentric dist. centre to centre = 3.8°)
2020 10 31 15:53 OPPOSITION of Uranus with the Sun

 

 

Generated using COELIX APEX software

OCTOBER 2020 LUNAR OCCULTATIONS VISIBLE FROM SCARBOROUGH, UK. Time = UT (GMT)

The angular size and the appearance of the planets compared. OCTOBER, 2020. Click the image to enlarge, if needs be.
In an astronomical telescope, the image of the planet is often reversed.
Generated using Coelix Apex, software